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From The Locker Room To The Board Room

From The Locker Room To The Board RoomAs Title IX marks its 30th anniversary, a Tufts graduate – and top executive – says the ruling has helped her on and off the field. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.27.02] Now entering its 30th year, Title IX has changed the face of high school and college athletics. And according to a new study - which found that over 80 percent of top women executives played sports beyond grade school -- the decision has changed the face of the business world as well. Equal access to sports, says a Tufts graduate and corporate executive, has opened the doors to greater achievement for women.

"In a year that marks the 30th anniversary of Title IX, it's interesting to find that the decision not only reached its intended purpose - equaling the athletic playing field for women - but as an extension may have helped women to be more successful in the business world," reported The Boston Globe.

This comes as no surprise to Tufts graduate Irina Simmons. A tri-sport athlete in high school, Simmons went on to become vice president and treasurer of EMC Corporation, one of the top 100 companies in Massachusetts.

"Title IX is not something that you carry around with you these days," Simmons - who competed in basketball, track, and gymnastics before coming to Tufts - told the Globe. "A lot of women are so comfortable with participating that they just take it as a given that they'll have the ability to play."

Simmons - a top executive at EMC, a leading computer memory devices firm - told the Globe that playing sports helped her learn to deal with the pressures of the business world.

"When you're in sports you naturally compete with individuals or teams, and that teaches you to deal with stress factors, and failure," Simmons said. "Every game has a winner and loser, and what that does is teach you to get up the next morning and try again. In the business world that something that's very important."

The Tufts graduate - one of only a handful of top women executives within her company - added, "You can't just take no for an answer and sit and sulk; you have to keep going back and getting points across and working your agenda to achieve the conclusion you want. You learn how to overcome failure; even if sometimes in sports you never win, you learn to deal with that; it's not the end of the world."

Simmons - who was born in Lebanon and educated in Europe before attending Tufts - said that hard work is important both on and off the playing field.

"One of the more important aspects for me, because of the sports I played, was discipline," she told the Globe. "You have to work pretty hard to get to a level of achievement."

Sports helped her learn to take risks - which, for Simmons, have paid off.

"At a recent women's leadership forum I made the point that you have to put yourself in harm's way in order to get the experience you need to be viewed as a leader," she told the Globe. "It's the same discipline you learn from sports: you don't know how well you're going to do, but that doesn't stop you from going after it."



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